Canadian

Real Estate: Toronto, Ontario

This nearly $10M heritage home in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood is so lovely. Each room is so well-appointed with elegant furnishings and beautiful art.

Images via Paul Johnston.

Design: Monika Hibbs Home

Monika Hibbs wears and has worn many hats – doctor, blogger, influencer, designer, author, and shop owner. Based out of British Columbia, her namesake homewares shop is absolutely lovely. She has some really beautiful pieces in stock currently, especially in the areas of lighting and decor. Here are a few of the items that caught my eye (but are definitely not in my budget…sigh).

carnegie table lamp, $874CAD; vedra table lamp, $1050CAD; desmond table lamp, $1311CAD
bryant chandelier, $1249CAD; coco magnolia pendant, $3148CAD
eloise pendant, $1225CAD; eldridge pendant, $1428CAD; keil swing arm, $700+CAD
laurel pot brush set, $76CAD; bread tin, $89CAD; marble container with lid, $75CAD; calley dipped vase, $198CAD; copenhagen pot and saucer, $65+CAD; egg board, $135CAD

All product images via Monika Hibbs Home.

Design: Lune 1860

In a recent issue of Nuvo, this picture caught my attention and enticed me to read the adjacent article.

I like the table’s length and slim lines and the curve of the unusual light fixture. After reading the article, I learned that this place – Lune 1860 – is in Goderich, which is relatively close to the Waterloo region, and is a place I’ve been to several times in the last couple of years.

Lune 1860 is an event space in a 160-year old country house. It was founded by Lisa Mok, a Toronto-based creative director and graphic designer.

photos by Niamh Barry for Lune 1860

Design: The Great Outdoors

We had a few wonderful summer-like days over the last couple of weeks (interspersed with rainy, cold April days), which seemed to put everyone in a happier-than-usual mood (on account of Ontario’s 3rd lockdown currently in place until at least the end of April…ugh!). The trails were busy with walkers, joggers, and cyclists, and it felt great to get some real vitamin D!

I’m eager for outdoor living and entertaining this summer. (Yes, back to entertaining…I’m thinking positively!) I’m thinking casual gatherings with easy food and drinks. I want to be outdoors and maskless with friends enjoying good food, music, and games. I want people to feel comfortable to come inside to use the bathroom or to grab another drink. It’s not too much to ask after 1+ years of lockdown, right? Right?!

What do I need for outdoor entertaining? While I take stock of my current inventory of furniture, tableware, and games, I’ll also look around the online marketplace to see what’s new and fun.

Chapters Indigo: wine goblets, $24.50CAD; orb LED lantern, $24.50CAD; octagonal firepit, $989CAD; outdoor stool, $249.50CAD sunbrella pouf, $99.50CAD
Hauser: firepit and cover, $2889CAD; firebowl, $1459CAD; air xl arm chair, $149CAD; lake chair, $489CAD; bayfield teak folding chair, $499CAD
Crate & Barrel: melamine platter, $24.95CAD; melamine dinnerware, $10.95+CAD; bocce, $219CAD; 2-in-1 bean bag toss, $209CAD; dining chair, $449CAD; acrylic glass, $7.95CAD

Personal: 20 Free and Cheap Things to do During a Pandemic

It’s about time that I compile a list of free and cheap things to do during this pandemic. The ideas have been trickling in, and with cooler temps arriving, I think now is an ideal time for a list like this.

FREE

  1. Go to the library. Do you have a library card? Great! If not, why not? It’s free! And the library has so many amazing book, video, and game options! Locally, check out the Waterloo Public Library.
  2. Read. Read a book or magazine. Listen to an audio book. Leave your reality behind and escape into another storyline.
  3. Go for a walk. I know this might seem boring to some, but it’s not. You get fresh air. You observe your surroundings. You see people (at a safe distance). Walks are great! You can explore new neighbourhoods while you’re at it, too. Locally, for easy walks, I suggest Uptown Waterloo, Waterloo park, Downtown Kitchener, Victoria Park, trails around St. Jacobs, and a drive to and walk around Elora. For trails, check out this Waterloo Region trails page.
  4. Call a friend. I think I have talked with friends and family on the phone more than I have in my whole life. Conversations pass the time and (sort of) mimic face-to-face interactions. I often call people when I’m out walking, and I love the break from texting, FaceTime, and computer work.
  5. Tune in to an online performance. Symphonies and theatres are inviting people to attend online performances. While I haven’t done so yet, this is on my to do list. The Stratford Festival, the KW Symphony, and the MET Opera have offerings listed on their websites.
  6. Take a drive. Have a change of scene. Explore some new-to-you trails.
  7. Plan an at-home spa. Make a face mask. Have a bath. Paint your nails. Take an afternoon or evening to pamper yourself.
  8. Meditate. I was meditating briefly but consistently a long while ago (it’s likely been a year), and I’m getting back into it now. I use Insight Timer which offers so many meditation options (time, type) for free. If you’re looking for alternative meditation options (at a cost), locally, the Dharma Centre offers several online meditation options; this is the organization through which I did a one-day silent retreat last September.
  9. Prepare a budget. Now (and probably always) is a great time to revisit your spending and saving habits. Prepare a budget so you know how your money flows and where you can and want to spend or save it.
  10. Live adventurously. I watched Alistair Humphreys’ video about #MicroAdventures on Swiss Miss last week, and it reminded me to try new things…which don’t have to cost a dime!

CHEAP

  1. Make a nice meal. Cooking or baking is a great past time, as it does exactly that – passes time. The plan, the shop, and the execution can take hours! And the best part is that you’ll get to reward yourself with a delicious meal (and leftovers). Drop off extra portions at a friend’s.
  2. Do a puzzle. I have bought puzzles from HomeSense, Indigo, and Amazon for under $25. Locally, Gifted in Waterloo and The Art of Home in Cambridge have artistic selections for around the same price point.
  3. Knit or crochet. Knitting a basic scarf or blanket isn’t too complicated. I’ve seen a kit at HomeSense for $40. It has everything you need to get started on a small blanket. Purl Soho offers a lot of free tips and instructions (as well as packages) online. Locally, I don’t have experience with crocheting, but I have heard it’s even easier and quicker to pick up than knitting.
  4. Sewing. If you don’t already have a sewing machine, then this option might be out of your price range. If you already have one, then this is a relatively cheap hobby. Locally, I get fabrics at Lens Mills. The selection is vast. Prices are competitive.
  5. Play a board game. Board games are relatively affordable and provide hours of entertainment for you and your bubble people. Monopoly is a classic option that is always fun to play. Newer in my board game rotation are Sequence and Catan. Both are very enjoyable and pose new challenges every time I play.
  6. Try a new subscription. Whether it’s a new magazine subscription, food delivery service, or a TV streaming service, trying something new could provide hours of entertainment. I added Disney+ (about $10CAD a month) to my subscriptions way back in March, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’m still making my way through the Star Wars movies, but I have also watched the full Mandalorian series (how is Baby Yoda so darn cute?), Moana, and Hamilton – all shows I would never have watched otherwise. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it forever, but for now, this service is working for me.
  7. Treat yourself. Some days are harder than others. If you want to treat yourself (retail therapy often works for me!), but are watching your budget more carefully than usual, opt for something small. A candle, a lipstick, a new shampoo, a coffee, a new book, or a new top are small options (often under $20) that could help to brighten your day (or several)! Locally, buy a book at Words Worth Books and a coffee at Seven Shores Cafe in Waterloo.
  8. Learn a language. Through online options like DuoLingo (free), italki, or language teachers offering online instruction, learning a language would be a fun way to pass time. Choose a language of a country you’d like to visit once the borders are open to travel and tourism!
  9. Try an outdoor activity. With winter coming, it might be a good idea to think about how to enjoy being outside in the cold. Buy a cross country ski set, snowshoes, or shoe grips (e.g., crampons, Yak Trax, icers). If you buy these items used or on sale, they can certainly fit in the “cheap” category.
  10. Visit another town. There are so many places to see, and a day out doesn’t mean a big expense. Grab a coffee and wander around towns who may need an extra visitor or two. Wear your mask. Pack your sanitizer. Here are some easy day trips from Kitchener-Waterloo: Stratford, Elora, Bayfield, Kincardine, London, Port Stanley, and Caledon. Small towns and small shops (everywhere) need our support!

Food: Cowbell Brewing Co. in Blyth, Ontario

A few weeks ago, on our way to the lake, we stopped at Cowbell Brewing Co. in Blyth, Ontario for a meal. Blyth, for those of you (like me) who have never heard of it is about 80km west of Waterloo and 85km north of London. It’s only about 25km inland from Lake Huron. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely convinced a purposeful trip to a brewery was for me. I don’t drink beer, you see. I was told, however, that I would love Cowbell on account of the architecture of the main building…and the food. In fact, this turned out to be true. I was impressed!

Cowbell’s main building is enormous. It sort of reminded me of the main building at the St. Jacob’s farmers market. Think wood, massive ceilings, and impressive stonework.

On this trip, we ate outside because we didn’t have a reservation and there was a bit of a wait for inside seating. Outdoor dining is currently my preferred option anyway, so it worked out well. I opted for the classic burger and a sangria. Both were delicious. The (branded) burger was oh so good!

Beyond a trip to the country for an excellent meal, a visit to Cowbell is worthwhile if you have any interest in learning about branding (and brand compliance). Everything (everything) is branded at Cowbell. The Cowbell store is stocked with products that are made in partnership with local merchants and creators. I was fascinated by Cowbell’s branding approach.

On our visit, we chatted with the friendly staff who told us about Cowbell’s start just a few years ago (in 2016) and its future plans of a fruit and vegetable garden and barn. I am already looking forward to my next visit when I also aim to go on a Cowbell tour (yes, even though I don’t drink beer).

Art: Jennifer Graham Ceramics

After years of eyeing the work of ceramic artist Jennifer Graham, I finally bought my first piece. Jennifer Graham is based in Stratford, but I’ve seen her pieces regularly at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo. On a recent trip to Bayfield, I spotted her work again at the Main Street Gallery, and I knew it was the right time for me to invest in one of her delightful creations.

Those polka dots! The wonky edge! This is a serving piece (and display piece) that makes me smile!

Jennifer is the only potter I’ve come across who works strictly in black and white. Her pieces are modern, relaxed, and functional. Each piece feels smooth and soft.

Photos via Jennifer Graham and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

Fashion: 10 White Dresses for Summer

There’s no way I’m counting down the days of summer after the months (months and months) of cold weather. There is still plenty of time to wear breezy white dresses. If you’re on the lookout for options, here are 10 white dress to consider.

shirt dress, $118CAD (on sale), Kit & Ace
lace dress, $249.99CAD, See by Chloé at Simons
flounce trimmed dress, $49.99CAD, H&M
taffeta babydoll dress, $158CAD, Aritzia
Jenni Kayne, $325USD
eyelet midi dress, $270CAD, Urban Outfitters
white shirt dress, $250CAD, Odeyalo
lace dress, $245USD, Sandro
eyelet dress, $60CAD (on sale), Hudson’s Bay
linen shirt dress, $168CAD, Aritzia

Get Educated

Deaths. Riots. Protests. Deaths. Deaths. More deaths.

The news has been overwhelming. I’ve had to stop scrolling through my Twitter feed because it’s just too much. But ignoring what’s happening isn’t productive. Shutting off the news isn’t useful.

At this time, I also can’t stop thinking about This is America by Childish Gambino. Anyone else? It was released in 2018, but it seems that the images could have been taken from the news clips of this week. Terrible. Just awful.

It’s no secret that I value education. I learn from school, texts, books, friends, news, articles, professors, etc. I try to stay informed by reading a variety of sources, thinking critically, and reflecting on my own biases.

Given what’s happening in the USA, and what happens in Canada, regularly, too, regarding racial wars, I’m trying to learn more and fill in the gaps of my own knowledge, education, and experiences. Perhaps you are, too. The lists of educational resources that have been shared online are overwhelming, but these sites seem to be well-curated. It’s a starting point if you and your families want to learn more about racism, implicit bias, and anti-racism work.

  1. Anti-racism resources
  2. 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice
  3. A detailed list of anti-racism resources

If you have other resources to share, please do so.

I believe education is one of the best gifts we can give children around the world. Education tests our perspectives and our previous understandings. Education helps us to make sense of the world around us. Education gives us power, language, ideas, and skills to effect change. Two organizations that I have worked with who provide great education opportunities for black children and youth are:

  1. Leadership by Design – Part of the Lifelong Leadership Institute, this Toronto-based program gives African-Caribbean youth opportunities to develop and practice their leadership skills. The group of highschool students who I met in 2018 were impressive to say the least.
  2. Pendo – Located near Nairobi, Kenya, the first Pendo school opened in 2019 with a focus on providing early childhood education and nutrition to young Kenyans. Pendo means love in Swahili.

If you know of other educational programs, please share them in the comments.

I shared a similar message with my students this week because I know I can effect change through my work at the university.

Be well.

Art: Roger Wood

When my friend sent me this photo, I knew I needed to learn more.

It’s a close-up view of Story Without Words No. 1904 by Canadian artist Roger Wood.

Wood composes his scenes in white using small objects. The layering is incredible, which means you’ll discover more each time you view one of his pieces.

Photo by SL.

Design: How Low Can you Go?

The September issue of Style at Home magazine arrived this week, and one of my favourite features in this magazine is the high-low article. In this issue, the Style at Home team designed two versions of an office – high/low, of course!

Before you scroll down, make your guess!

Did you guess correctly? What gave it away? The rooms are so similar, so it’s definitely hard to decipher between the two! I usually look at the lighting to help me determine which room is high and which one is low.

In this feature, the magazine writes, “We set up this chic home office on both a three-figure salary and a minimum wage budget.” You know I love Style at Home, but I have an issue with this statement. First, what’s a three-figure salary? Should it be a six-figure salary? Also, if you earn minimum wage ($14/hr in Ontario) and work 40 hours a week, your weekly earnings (before tax) is $560. Would you really then spend nearly $1000 for a home office?

So I wondered if it was possible to design a similar room at an even lower cost. When I spotted an $80 vase in the low version (compared to a $60 version in the high?), I thought I could do better. So I took on the project, and here’s what I came up with.

wallpaper, $30/roll; bookends, $5 (DIY estimate); vase, $40; marble wall clock, $33; task floor lamp, $47; sit-stand desk, $240; chair, $156; storage bin ($2 each), $4; rug, $119 (all in CAD)

The total cost for this “extra low” version is $674 CAD. I know I could create an even lower cost version if I was shopping in actual stores (including second hand) rather than doing my shopping in online shops only. In this design, it was especially challenging to find a more affordable rug, so I opted for a slightly smaller size than the ones featured in the magazine.

The Friday Five: Things on my Mind

1.Watch. This otter doing sit-ups.

2. Inspiration. “When you believe something is hard, the universe demonstrates the difficulty. When you believe something is easy, the universe demonstrates the ease.” ― Esther Abraham Hicks (via Swiss Miss)

3. Music. Have you listened to Madonna’s Madame X album yet? I can’t believe she’s 60! I’m so impressed by her artistry.

4. Food. Last weekend, I went to Langdon Hall’s first BBQ of its 2019 summer BBQ series. Five chefs created mini menus, and guests feasted for hours. It was heaven! I posted a few photos on my Instagram feed if you’d like to see some mouth-watering food.

5. The ION in Kitchener-Waterloo. The ION, Kitchener-Waterloo’s light rail, is making its official debut today. The city is offering free rides from June 21st until July 1st to celebrate the launch (here’s the map). The ION has been in development since 2011, so it’s nice to finally see the launch day arrive. I last wrote about the ION in April 2017 when there was an open house to share info with the public about the ION light rail system in our region. This weekend, I may just ride it from my local stop to Conestoga mall in Waterloo or the market in Kitchener.

Travel: 8 Restaurants to Try in Montreal

Last month, I spent the Victoria Day long weekend in Montreal with my good friend. It was a girls’ weekend away, and we had a great time! In addition to sleeping well in the luxe Hotel Birks and being entertained by Pink, we ate our way through the city. Oh, what fun! We did our food research by searching online, polling our Montreal friends, and asking for recommendations from our hotel concierge. We were not disappointed with any of our choices! Here are the restaurants we visited (in alphabetical order), and my reviews of them.

Arthurs

We took an Uber from our hotel to Arthurs where we feasted on breakfast on the patio in the May sunshine. After our meal, we walked to Atwater Market to browse the food and flower stalls. Arthurs is a great option for breakfast and lunch, and the vibe is fresh, local, and retro.

Bar George

We walked to Bar George from our hotel. It’s located right off Saint Catherine, so it’s an ideal stop for pre- or post-shopping during the day or a pre-dinner cocktail. The food is fine, but the decor and history is amazing. I found it pricey for brunch, but if you’re a sucker for decor (like me), then it’s worth it. The vibe is historical, moody, and chic.

Café Parvis

Café Parvis is located just off of Saint Catherine sort of behind the Bay. It is less than a 5 minute walk from Hotel Birks which makes it a great option if you stay at the hotel. I was pleasantly surprised by this restaurant. The restaurant is filled with plants, and the atmosphere is comfortable and friendly. This is a great option for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktail hour. The vibe is inviting.

Drogheria Fine

Drogheria Fine is near the Outremont neighbourhood, so we took an Uber from our hotel downtown on Saint Catherine. This was one of the highlight meals of the entire weekend. Here, you order a $5 container of gnocchi from a walk-up window and find a spot (bench, park) to eat it. After your meal, you can walk around the neighbourhood and pop into vintage stores and boutiques. This is an awesome place to go for lunch (or breakfast, dinner, or snack if you love gnocchi as much as I do!). The vibe is uber casual as you’re eating gnocchi out of a box on the street! Don’t forget to ask for hot chili flakes if you want added spice

Le Pois Penché

Fashion blogger Jessica from Westmount Fashionista recommended Le Pois PenchĂ©. It did not disappoint! This French brasserie offers classic French food like moules frites (mussels and fries). It’s a great option for lunch, cinq-Ă -sept (pre-dinner cocktail) or dinner. We opted to go here for dinner before the Pink concert as it is a short walk from the Bell Centre. The vibe? French, bien sur!

Nora Gray

Nora Gray is on so many “top restaurants of Montreal” lists we consulted, so we had to try it. It’s small, so reservations are a good idea. Nora Gray is about a 20 minute walk from downtown. It’s a great option for cocktails or dinner. The vibe is moody, hip, and fashionable.

Olive & Gourmando

Olive & Gourmando is in Old Montreal, and it’s a great option for breakfast and lunch. The servers are friendly, and the place is constantly packed. The vibe is bright, fresh, and healthy(ish).

Tommy

Tommy has not been open for too long, but it has grown quickly and steadily. There are now three locations in Montreal, and we went to the original location in Old Montreal. Tommy is great for breakfast or lunch. The vibe is bustling, beach chic, and garden fresh.

I would go back to all of these restaurants the next time I go to Montreal. I don’t think I can pick a favourite because each one has something special to offer. Drogheria Fine is certainly calling my name, and I’d like to try the pizza at CafĂ© Parvis.

Travel: Hotel Birks, Montreal

Back in the fall, when I was talking to someone about Montreal, she started raving about her new discovery – Hotel Birks. She told me that she wandered into the Birks store, kept walking around, only to discover a hotel attached to it. She said the lobby was beautiful, and that considering my interest in luxe hotels, I must check it out. So I did.

Hotel Birks gets reviews like “exceptional” and “outstanding” on Trip Advisor, which made me that much more eager for my weekend stay. One of the things I noted in the reviews were the reviewers’ use of staff names. I take note of things like this because it means that staff and guests had real interactions or they interacted more than once. I also liked that I saw responses from the Rooms and Reservations Managers. When I see hotel staff interacting with Trip Advisor comments, I feel like they’re taking them seriously. So…all-in-all, my pre-trip research was positive! (Note: I received a press rate for my stay.)

My friend Shannon and I stayed for three nights, and we both commented on how much we enjoyed the beds. They were extremely comfortable and the linens were top-notch. We also made use of the fireplace in our room; it was perfect to warm up the room on the surprisingly cooler days of May. The hotel provided robes and slippers, and I made use of both.

The bathroom had every product we would need, and I was smitten by the use of marble throughout.

Note: You have the option to open or close the sliding doors between the shower and bedroom.

Our room had a little wet bar, which was perfect for our morning coffee and evening tea break. Beyond the room, the lobby of the Hotel Birks is full of charm and old architecture. The building was restored beautifully, and the main floor Brasserie Henri was lovely.

Service was good. I found the front desk team and concierge to be genuinely interested in helping. The room service was a touch inconsistent. Turn down service was different each night, and one day the cleaning crew completely missed our room. I’m not sure why, but the issue was resolved quickly.

The location is central. Hotel Birks is on Saint Catherine – one of Montreal’s main shopping areas – kitty corner to The Bay. From here, we were able to walk to the train station, to the Bell Centre, and to stores and restaurants. We also walked from here through Chinatown to Old Montreal. When we didn’t feel like walking, we easily grabbed an Uber to take us to places like Outremont and Atwater Market.

I didn’t have a chance to experience the Spa or Brasserie Henri on this trip, but both looked luxurious and inviting.

Would I stay at Hotel Birks again? Most definitely!

Note: I received a press rate for my stay. All opinions and photos are my own.

Real Estate: Outremont, Montreal

When I find a neighbourhood that I like when I travel, I tend to look online at real estate websites. Does anyone else do this? I guess I’m curious about the real estate market and the design of homes. I think I also have the “Where could I live if I moved here?” question in my mind, too. You know how it is, right?

On my recent trip to Montreal, I became most curious about real estate in the Outremont area. Here’s one condo that has me dreaming of moving to Montreal and living the luxe life!

1420 boul. Mont-Royal, apt. 311; $1.8+ million, all photos via Centris.ca

Two for Tuesday: Wish Upon a Star

I was in Montreal this past weekend, and I stayed at the Hotel Birks. Since it is conveniently attached to – and the same company as – Birks, the jewelry store, it was easy to pop in to eye the current collection of sparkle and shine. Delicate jewelry caught my attention the most (second to diamonds, of course), including these star pieces.

Event: Interior Design Show Toronto

An event that many in the Canadian design community look forward to every winter is the Interior Design Show (IDS) held each January in Toronto. I have a great time every year – learning about what’s new and upcoming in design; meeting talented artists, creators, and designers; and sharing ideas and commentary with friends.

IDS begins on Thursday, January 17th (first trade day) with some keynote speakers and the opening night party (open to the public). IDS is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday (with trade days on Thursday and Friday). It is sure to be inspiring! Have you seen the line-up of speakers? Canadian design favourites Lynda Reeves and Brian Gluckstein will be giving talks on Sunday, January 20th. Before then, talks by designers, writers, and architects will be shared. The schedule is jam-packed, and can certainly get overwhelming. My advice? Have a look at the schedule ahead of time to see what interests you, then take a day to stroll around the booths and interact with the exhibitors. You’ll learn so much through conversation! And the face-to-face interaction with experts will be a highlight of your experience, I’m sure!

There’s much to look forward to. Here are some of the booths that are on my must-see list.

Blanco. Well, we know I’ve been a fan of Blanco for quite some time, so I’m eager to see its exhibit and new product launches.

Haven by Tangible. I’m looking forward to seeing Haven’s whimsical cloud-like pop-up space.

Swiss watch company Rado‘s installation of objects will include a variety of materials, forms, and textures. The company is also showing off the results of the design competition where students from Vancouver’s LaSalle College designed the IDS information desk. I am expecting precision with Rado’s work!

salt shaker by Hanae Baruchel

Studio North & Prototype is always a popular destination of IDS. Over 65 Canadian and international designers will be presenting their limited-editions of furniture, lighting, glass, ceramics, textiles, and surface design. It is one of my favourite features of IDS, so you can bet I’ll be talking a walk through to see the presentation of so many talented creators!

light by Tonya Hart
uni salt and pepper shaker by Yingjie Chen Design
light by Zeed
all rack by Kroft

Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Shanghai-based Neri&Hu Design and Research Office will be giving a talk on Friday at 1pm. Their work is streamlined and dynamic, and I love the contrast of lines and light of their projects.

Bei Space by Neri&Hu
Design Commune by Neri&Hu
Little B Concept Store by Neri&Hu
Yangzhou Retreat by Neri&Hu

I’m also looking forward to seeing what Izen Architecture brings to IDS. They are collaborating with Ontario Wood, which is a government initiative to help us all identify and purchase locally made wood in a variety of species most suitable to our design projects.

Ontario Wood + Izen Architecture
House 369 by Izen Architecture
bathroom by Izen Architecture

These are just a few of the IDS exhibits and speakers that I’d like to see this weekend. And you? Have you bought your ticket? What are you looking forward to seeing or learning?

Fashion: A Reitmans Refresh

Reitmans. If you’re like me, you might be wondering, how have I just become an adult who shops at Reitmans? In all honesty, I rarely went into Reitmans. Often, I walked right past it in the malls unless something in the window caught my eye. The store was never on my must-go-in-and-shop list. But then Meghan Markle (pre-Duchess status) collaborated with the brand, and I started to take notice. I thought, hmm, that’s curious. What’s going on with Reitmans these days? And then I started getting press info in my inbox, and I continued to take notice. Some of the suiting pieces looked great, and the patterns and colours were modern. And then my friend raved about some of her activewear pieces from a brand called Hyba, which I later learned was part of Reitmans. I hadn’t expected it, but it was happening. I was paying way more attention to Reitmans than I had ever before. Can anyone relate?

I opted to learn more about the brand before I responded to any press emails. Reitmans Canada Ltd., I learned (or refreshed my memory), is a Canadian company that also includes Additional Elle, Penningtons, RW&Co., Thyme, and Hyba. The company was founded in 1926 by Herman and Sarah Reitman with one woman’s clothing store on Boulevard St. Laurent in Montreal, and it now operates 642 stores in addition to e-commerce channels. While it started off as a family-owned and operated company, it is now listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RET; RET-A). The grandchildren of the original owners are still involved in the company with Jeremy H. Reitman serving as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Stephen F. Reitman serving as the President and Chief Operating Officer. An interesting history, eh? I like that there’s still a family connection within this long-running public company.

Under the direction of President Jacqueline Tardif, Reitmans seems to be on the right track by offering women a variety of options for work and leisure at affordable price points.

The goal of its current campaign is to celebrate real women and “relatable moments that occur in our regular lives.” (If you’d like, check out the behind the scenes of the Reitmans’ Really You campaign.) Reitmans was kind to send over a few pieces that I have already worn multiple times, washed, ironed, and packed up for my holiday trip to Toronto. So far, so good. The pieces fit well and definitely suit my lifestyle.

The Original Comfort Straight Leg Jean surprised me as they’re pull-jeans without a traditional zip fly. I thought they might be too “jegging” for me, but they’re not. They feel like a classic jeans because of their weight, so I have been happily wearing them. Comfort level is high with these ones!

When I pulled out this dress, I knew it was me. It’s definitely an easy-to-wear dress for work, which is what I have done multiple times already. I also wore it on Christmas Day for my family lunch. The dress is from Reitmans’ Willow & Thread line which is focused on work wear.

Here are a few of the items coming up for spring that caught my eye. If you pop into a Reitmans store or shop online, I hope you find something that is #ReallyYou! And, if you’re an influencer/blogger/Instagrammer, I encourage your to post photos that are #ReallyYou!

wrap tops – $49.90
long sweater – $49.90

Many thanks to the Reitmans team for sending me a lovely package of goodies. All opinions are my own.

Gift Guide: For Kids, Tweens, and Teens

Daniela’s back today with her fourth gift guide for the holidays (see her previous guides for the host/hostess, for men, for women). Today she’s sharing some ideas for the little(r) ones in your lives. It’s a long post, so get comfy!

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This year I am taking a slightly different approach with my children’s guide. Rather than focusing on one age group, I’ve included all age groups and found many gifts that could overlap ages and stages. The ideas I share below are mostly in an age-related order, but they definitely could suit multiple ages. Happy shopping!

Minika is a Quebec based company that makes beautiful play gyms amongst other things for infants. Void of primary colours, these gyms can easily fit in well in most living rooms. Most importantly, Minika’s items are hand made without the use of any chemicals making them totally safe and natural.

activity gym, $95CAD

I’m all about comfort for the little ones and isa&bella, a Canadian company, has set a high bar when it comes to making ethical and super comfy organic cotton clothes for your little one. Exciting things are coming in 2019 as the company will increases the sizes they carry. For now, the perfect little onesie and pants will make sure your baby is comfortable as they grow and explore all day.

harem pants, $36CAD

onesie, $32CAD

This Melissa and Doug wooden blocks set inspires tons of creativity and hours of play. It will grow with your toddler into their childhood years. It’s made entirely of wood and is excellent quality.

building blocks, $67.83CAD

Love Powered Co. is a Canadian company which was started by two mompreneurs who were looking for positive affirmation and mindful tools to bring into their homes and families. When they could not find them, they created Love Powered Co. Their beautifully packaged affirmation cards are of the highest quality. They come in three options: one for children – the Love Powered Littles (also totally useable for your baby-you just say it to them!); a recently launched Love Powered Teen affirmation boxes; and the Love Powered Femme for the lady in your life. These positive “I AM” affirmations will encourage mindfulness, self-worth, self-love and confidence.

Love Powered littles box set, $39.95

Love Powered teens box set, $42.95

Who doesn’t love a gift that gives back? You may recall I featured Cuddle & Kind in my October #whitecabanawearspink gift guide, and I’m back featuring the company again because it is really making a difference. For every hand made doll purchased, Cuddle & Kind donates 10 meals through various humanitarian organizations (learn more here). I love the beautiful prints that can be purchased with the dolls, too. Not only do they have inspirational messages, but they make wonderful artwork for a child’s bedroom. I don’t think there is an age limit to this gift, but it is likely best for toddler to tweens!

Stella the Polar Bear, $65+CAD

Hudson the Polar Bear, $60+CAD

Calgary-based SÄ“m label was born out of the creator’s desire to pair sustainability and minimalism in fashion. You can read about owner Kelsey’s story here. SÄ“m label’s bamboo cotton items are beautiful and comfortable and come in sizes from infant to 7T. They will be a hit, and your recipients will never forget that it was you who gave them this gift as the pieces are too comfortable to take off!

raglan long sleeve romper, $58

flutter sleeve tunic, $48

Based out of Germany, Grimm‘s wooden toys are not only absolutely beautiful, but they are non toxic and made of wood. I wish I could buy the whole Grimm collection! For now, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites. The building toys can make beautiful formations and are great for all ages because children can create more complex things as they grow.

Grimm’s Elements Building Storage, $99CAD

Grimm’s wood tunnel, $95CAD

The Moonlite projector – available at Mastermind Toys – clips easily onto your smartphone making bedtime routines with your child so much fun. The device will project stories onto the wall or ceiling of the child’s room using your smartphone. This starter pack comes with two stories.

Moonlite starter pack, $29.99

This fun neon sign has three neon markers for messaging. It only requires a few batteries and is great for a number of age groups.

screen frame, $25.19 (on sale)

I love the line of creative products that Antsy Pants has developed. Once you’re done building this pirate ship (or this fire truck or this ice cream truck), it provides hours of imagination and fun for your child.

pirate ship, $76.49CAD (on sale at The Bay)

Have a Disney fan in your life? Cinemood Portable projector is a kid-friendly device that is pre-loaded with 65 Disney e-books and videos. You can also connect it to wifi to watch Netflix and Youtube, making it great option for family movie nights.

Cinemood portable theatre, $329CAD

This ultimate candy bag from Montreal-based Squish is definitely a gift to please every age (once they can safely eat the candy that is).

the ultimate box – Squish faves, $50CAD

The bath bomb craze is alive and well. Do you know a child or tween who loves bath bombs? If so, how about giving them this kit so they can make their very own bath bombs? The kit comes with everything they need to make six.

bath bomb kit, $16.99 (on sale)

I love this bluetooth speaker by Bumpboxx that looks like a retro ghetto blaster for the tween and teen in your life. Sound and quality are optimal, and it comes in a variety of models. I love the small one best because it is compact, and you can choose from a variety of colors.

Bumpboxx Flare 6, $239

Do you have a teen who loves makeup? This glittery set from Sephora is sure to please.

eyeshadow set, $59CAD

Have a teen who isn’t a big fan of dressing up? Well this Canadian-made dressy sweatshirt is the perfect gift for them! Since it is made of a blend of bamboo and merino french terry fabrics, your teens won’t feel like they are “dressing up.”

the dressy sweatshirt, $128CAD

A backpack is no longer just for school. Backpacks are replacing purses and work messenger bags and people are now having a collection of them. Vancouver-based Herschel has a wide array of trendy backpacks & accessories for children and teens.

heritage backpack, $64.99

daypack, $34.99

If you’re looking for a great set of headphones, then these are a great option because they’re at a decent price point in relation to other headphones. They are fast-charging, have a long battery life, and are Bluetooth enabled.

Skullcandy headphones, $79.99CAD

Hope this shopping list makes your shopping a little easier this time of year! Have fun and happy holidays!

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Daniela, you’ve done it again! You’ve curated a crazy cool collection of gift ideas for kids of all ages.

The Friday Five: Black Friday Sales

Well, I don’t celebrate American Thanksgiving, and I haven’t been a cross-border shopper for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a good Canadian sale or two or five. Here are sales from five of my favourite places that I’ll be taking advantage of today.

1. Langdon Hall

With any e-certificate purchase at Langdon Hall from November 23rd to 26th, you’ll receive an additional gift card worth 10% of the value of your purchase. By the way, if you didn’t already know, Chef Jason Bangerter – along with sous chefs Philippe de Montbrun and Dan Angus – was competing on Iron Chef Canada earlier this week. You can now watch the video online at the Food Network Canada. If you need more convincing to treat yourself, read up on my many adventures at Langdon Hall (and, no, I don’t work for the hotel).

2. Joe Fresh

Joe Fresh is offering 30% off site-wide (and in stores) from November 23rd to 25th. Honestly, I rarely buy anything from Joe Fresh these days, but I have had my eye on this coatigan, and I’m going to grab it in store today (many sizes are out online, unfortunately).

3. Nordstrom

Nordstrom has items that are up to 60% off from now until Monday. I’ve had my eye on this polka dot coat which has been drastically reduced. I loved it when I saw it on Blair Eadie just a little while ago. I also like the sales in the home section (like this match safe, this Kate Spade euro sham, and this Polaroid camera).

4. The Bay

The Bay is offering thousands of items up to 70% off. It’s a great time to grab some classic Hudson’s Bay stripes from the HBC Collection.

5. Home Depot Canada

How often are you at Home Depot Canada? Even now that my major renovations are done, I can’t seem to stay away. The Black Friday sale is a great time to purchase appliances and tools. Because who doesn’t want more tools?

Happy shopping!

Gift Guide: For the Host

Who has started holiday shopping? Who has finished? I have plenty still to buy, so Daniela‘s holiday gift guides could not have come at a better time! She always finds the most interesting things from great brands. Today she’s kicking off the 2018 White Cabana Gift Guide Series with a guide for the hosts.

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It’s that time of year when many calendars are full of holiday drop-ins, dinners, and celebrations. Today I am sharing some gift ideas for the host and hostess, but I think think could also do well as stocking stuffers for an adult. These gifts for the host and hostess allow you to go beyond the norm of flowers and dessert. Happy shopping!

These white coasters are great because they suit any decor and are a perfect price point. Cocktail Emporium is an awesome store to check out if you are in the Toronto area. They have locations on Queen St. and in Kensington Market, and they really do have anything you can think of that is cocktail related.

angle dipped coasters, $20 CAD

If you’re heading to dinner at a foodie’s house, I suggest this Himalayan salt grater. It is sure to please your hosts.

salt grater, $30, Drake General Store

And how cool is this pizza cutter?

pizza cutter, $25.99, Drake General Store

I’m a sucker for a beautiful snow globe and Chapters Indigo always has an awesome selection this time of year.

snow globe joy, $22.99, Chapters Indigo

I love my notebooks and notepads, and I can never have enough. If you know someone who appreciates good and fun stationery than Eighty Seventh St., a Canadian company, is the place for you. While you’re on the website, have a look at the holiday shop.

pretty planner, $20 CAD, Eighty Seventh St.

always write notebook, $18.50CAD, Eighty Seventh St.

L’Occitane en Provence always impresses me with their holiday lines, and it has amazing price points. Not only do these items make great host gifts, but I think they would be great for teachers gifts and stocking stuffers, too.

almond bauble ornament,  $14, L’Occitane en Provence

festive crackers, $34, L’Occitane en Provence

Hope you enjoyed this gift guide. Enjoy the many holiday events that lie ahead!

***

Thanks, Daniela. You’ve started us off well with this holiday gift guide. I know you have a lot more to share with White Cabana readers this holiday season!

See Daniela’s gift guides from years past for more ideas.

Marketplace: 10 Unique Light Fixtures

I have been collecting images of interesting light fixtures for a little while now (beyond this ribbon lamp that I have loved for years), so I thought I’d finally share a few. Here are ten fixtures at various price points – and in many styles – that have caught my attention.

glass disc chandelier, $374USD (on sale), West Elm

Petite Friture x Daniel Emma, Cherry White Large, $402 Euros

Lauzet chandelier, $6299USD, Aerin via Circa Lighting

Eleonor table lamp, $105.99 CAD (on sale), Wayfair

Safavieh Pauley table lamp, $220CAD, Walmart

Hanna table lamp, $179USD,CB2

Castle Peak glass lamp, $949USD, Kate Spade via Circa Lighting

Darbon sconce, $489USD, Aerin

Selfoss sconce, $799USD, Aerin

Simpson floor lamp, $439CAD, Casalife

Gift Guide: Back to School

I know. I know. It’s only early August, and I’m talking about back to school. This does not meant that the summer is nearing an end. It just means that we’ve got back to school shopping on the brain! As per usual, I’m happy to welcome Daniela back to the blog. She’s a whiz at gift guides, and her Back to School Gift Guide certainly doesn’t disappoint.

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Whether you’re sending your children off to nursery school or Montessori or they are heading back to grade school this September, this list of must-have back to school items will ensure your child is well prepared for the year ahead.

First up is an item from the proudly Canadian Green’s Your Colour. I have owned a Green’s Your Colour bottle for a few years (and even featured it in this holiday gift guide). I use it daily for cold beverages in the summer and hot infused teas in the winter. This food grade bottle has the capacity to store many food and beverage items. Buying your child one for their upcoming school year will ensure they have a superior water bottle that can easily  store a hot lunch or snack without leaving any flavour residue after it has been washed. I can attest to its durability and quality as mine is now three years old, and it still looks and functions like it’s new.

Dino Stomper, $35 CAD, Green’s Your Colour

Next up is an item from another Canadian company – So Young. The company’s  owner,  Catherine, is not only passionate about what she does, but she has overcome so much in her life. Read her inspirational story. So Young’s line of products is not only well-made and well-priced, but it has the cutest selection of bags for you, your toddler, or your child. Here’s the child-sized backpack, but note that many backpacks come in a toddler version as well.

backpack, $55 CAD, So Young

And don’t forget to add a So Young lunch bag and ice pack while you are at it!

unicorn lunch box, $35 CAD, So Young

ice pack, $13 CAD, So Young

Next up is this great lunchbox that ensures you can pack your child a variety of food items while keeping everything separate in an all-in-one container. The company – PlanetBox – has three options, but the Shuttle or Rover are recommended for children.

Shuttle lunch box, $39.95 USD, PlanetBox

Rover lunch box, $55.95 USD, PlanetBox

Tiny Trendsetter is a Toronto-based store that offers shipping across Canada and the United States. The store has you covered with the trendiest styles for your little ones. Tiny Trendsetter carries many mainstream labels we all love, but what I love most is their focus on smaller independent labels.

A must-have for fall and winter are these super comfy feels-like-joggers-but-looks-like-jeans. The Beau Hudson “jegs” are not only super stylish, but they are also super easy for your child to put on and off themselves, making for easier mornings (and easier washroom breaks at school, too!).

Beau Hudson Jegs, $59.99 CAD, Tiny Trendsetter

This packable, 100% waterproof jacket should be a staple in your child’s backpack. It is good for wind and rain ensuring your child is always ready for weather changes.

Packable jacket, $54.99 CAD, Tiny Trendsetter

A staple for my own child’s wardrobe is this zip-up hoodie from Toronto’s Mini Mioche. I have replaced my daughter’s hoodie every time she outgrows it as it’s light enough for her to wear all seasons, and she is always cozy. Those early fall mornings will call for an extra layer, and this hoodie, which comes in many colours, is the perfect wardrobe staple for back to school. What’s even better is that it is designed and made right in Toronto.

hoodie, $48 CAD, Mini Mioche

Hope you enjoyed my back to school gift guide! Until next time, happy shopping!

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Thanks for this gift guide, Daniela! Of course I, too, enjoy a nice water bottle, since I’m never without one, and the little packable rain jacket reminds me of my old K-Way jacket!

Food: Langdon Hall’s Tasting Menu

Have you ever had a dining experience that renders you speechless? And if you’re like me – someone who loves words, writing, and language – such an experience becomes that much more remarkable.

Last week, as an early celebratory treat at Langdon Hall, I was fortunate to enjoy Chef Jason Bangerter‘s tasting menu. It was heavenly. Ten beautiful, dramatic, and delicious courses served over the period of several hours made for an incredibly memorable evening.

Let me take you through a bit of the experience today, since I love a good walk down memory lane. (And I love Langdon Hall, as you must know by now, too!)

The tasting menu started off with a terrine (kind of like a patĂ©) served on a pig’s skull. Yes, a pig skull. I realize this could be disturbing to some people, but it wasn’t for me. It was wild.

Next up was a crispy sunflower root. Inside was a purée of seeds, summer truffle, and thyme.

Then came the caviar. This was paired with a deviled egg, brioche, and crème fraiche.

The presentation of the sea scallop was beautiful. The scallop was in its own shell, surrounded by a backing of “trees.” Then water was poured into the bowl, producing a beautiful smokey mist. Gorgeous. (Note: Simply B‘s photo captures this dish beautifully.)

The asparagus with a lemon verbena sauce came next. Veggies have never looked so pretty in my own home!

Next came the fried pork belly with rhubarb and rhubarb sauce. I loved the combination of sweet and tart of this dish. Along with the sunflower root and scallop, this was one of my favourites of the menu.The lovely hen mousse came next. The creamy mousse was paired with morels.

Veal with peas and truffles was the final main course on the tasting menu.

As a palate cleanser, we were served orange and rum ice cream (aka The Creamsicle), which was topped with marigold.

For dessert (my fave!), we had Langdon Hall’s signature milk chocolate with caramelized butter croissant, Ontario black walnuts, and wild blueberries. Divine.

And because one dessert is never enough, the meal ended with a mignardise (a final sweet treat).

Amazing, right? Oh, the flavours and the presentation of each dish was amazing. Truly memorable.

I know the attention is on the food in the post, but there’s much more to it at Langdon Hall. As you’ve read here before, the service is top notch, and the decor is beautiful. I absolutely enjoy speaking with the Langdon Hall staff. Everyone I have met over the years is genuinely interested in what they do and the contributions they make to guests’ experiences.

Even on a very busy evening, Chef Jason Bangerter comes out of the kitchen to greet his guests and to ensure everyone is enjoying his creations. It was also a pleasure to meet Sous Chef Steffen. I know I’m not the only one who appreciates Chef’s creativity and his love of local flavours.

Many thanks to the following Langdon Hall crew for making our evening special: Chef Jason Bangerter, Sous Chef Stefan, Greg, Evan, and J.J. Thanks to Anna, too, who always makes me feel like a part of the LH family.

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s a bit of what has been on my mind – and in my life – lately.

1. Plants. I am so pleased with how two of my plants are currently growing. The first is my avocado plant that I started to grow from seed way back in the fall. The second is my fiddle leaf fig that I had cut back a long while ago, and it’s only now sprouting new leaves. So exciting!

2. Kingston. I took a trip to Kingston a couple of weeks ago, and it made me so happy to go back. I lived there for two years, and every time I visit, happy memories trickle back into my brain. I’m thankful that I’m able to continue making memories there even during very short visits.

view of my old waterfront apartment and balcony

3. Heated floor. The One Room Challenge is over, and my bathroom/laundry combo room is done. But when I saw this photo from the team at Warmup, it brought back memories of planning. I like the layout plan of my heated floor (photo source).

4. Art. When I was at Ines‘s house a couple of weeks ago for an essential oils party (with Christine and Hollie), I was impressed by all the art she has around her home. This sweet little piece by Frances Hilary Hahn really made me smile.

5. Elora. I drive over to Elora several times each year. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Waterloo, and it’s such a pretty town for a day trip. It was nice to see the progress of the Elora Mill, too. I’m thinking that the place will be pretty great once it’s all done. I look forward to taking a tour – and hopefully planning a longer stay, too!

That’s all for now. What have you had on the go lately? What’s been on your mind?

Gift Guide: Mother’s Day

I’m thrilled to welcome back Daniela to White Cabana today. You may remember her amazing gift guides from the holidays. She’s a very thoughtful gift giver, and we are all eager to meet her second little one this May. I’m grateful that she has taken time to share this impressive list of gift ideas for Mother’s Day with all of us. Take it away, Daniela!

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Hey Everyone, I am back with Mother’s Day gift ideas. As I anxiously await my second child arriving early May, I have definitely catered to the “new moms” you may be buying for in your life, although I have to say I think many moms would love the items on this list.

First up is this looks-like-butter romper. It’s from a Canadian company – Smash + Tess – that definitely knows what days are like with children. The variety of rompers not only exude comfort but also ease. They’re great for when you need to relax but also feel put together at home. They’re also great for when you need to run a few errands or are worried someone may come to the door after a sleepless night.

Smash + Tess’s The Sunday Romper looks like it would be the perfect every day outfit for a new mom – or any mom. It’s a Sunday Funday and what better way to celebrate than being comfortably chic? Oh… and maybe another round of mimosas. You know what they say: “a Sunday well spent brings a week of content.” Mission accomplished with this romper. In a Midnight Black rayon from bamboo and cotton blend, this romper needs no zipper, no buttons…it’s that fabulous! It’s spacious, stylish, and fits in all the right places. Looking for a new staple item? Look no further.

The Sunday Romper, $119 CAD, Smash + Tess

As you may recall from my holiday gift guides, I am definitely a coffee lover. I also find that I need the right mug each morning to go with my “mood”. Here are a few mugs that I’d definitely love to add to my collection.

Super Mom mug, $21.99 CAD, Amazon

#MomLife mug, $12 CAD, Chapters Indigo

 

On a note about beauty, I recently discovered Maison Apothecare, and I’m hooked! This is a Canadian company with both online ordering options as well as stores in Toronto, Niagara, Guelph, and Oakville. The company has skin care lines and cleaning lines all made from 100% pure plant derived extracts. As a mom, I think it’s important to really take care of yourself, and these products really are about taking care! They’re void of harsh chemical components, and they are sure to compliment the mom in your life’s beauty regimen or lack there of (moms don’t always have time). Here are some of my picks from their lines for the special mom in your life.

Facial Charcoal Brush, $15 CAD, Maison Apothecare

Facial Gift Set, $140 CAD, Maison Apothecare

Lavender & Sea Salt Soap, $8 CAD, Maison Apothecare

Exfoliating Soap Bag, $5 CAD, Maison Apothecare

 

 

Now onto the luxury gift in my shopping guide! When a mom finally gets to put her head down after a long day, what better way then to sink into the most luxurious comfortable sheets? That is where Soma Organic Mattresses comes in. Their full collection of St. Geneve bedding is lovely. For this post, I am featuring my wish list sheets – the Nico Organic Cotton sheet set. I have never felt anything like them and definitely know they would be an incredible investment (or gift) to a better luxurious night’s sleep! If you are in the Toronto area, the sales team at Soma is well-versed on everything “bedding,” and their service is top notch.

St. Geneve Nico Organic Sheet Set, $302 CAD, Soma

Finally, for the mom on the go with toddlers or school age children, this bag not only keeps mom fashionable but is also great to keep mom’s hands free while on the go this spring and summer. I wouldn’t suggest this for a diaper bag, but it is a great bag to carry everything you need for a day out with children while ensuring your comfort, too.

Rebecca Minkoff backpack, $276.50 CAD, Saks Fifth Avenue

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Yes. As predicted, Daniela spoiled us with a wonderful selection of gifts. I have had my eye on St. Geneve linens for quite some time! They are indeed luxurious! Thanks, Daniela!

Marketplace: BLANCO Canada

I’m pretty excited about what’s developing in my laundry/bathroom combo room. It took a few weeks to get going, but things are moving along now. One of the brands that I am working with on this project is BLANCO.

Not only are BLANCO’s products very much to my liking design-wise, but I love the history of this company. It has been family-owned since 1925, and its products are known for their German engineering and high quality. The BLANCO Canada products are manufactured in Canada, which definitely pleases me.

The team at BLANCO set me up with a white-white-white sink and faucet combination that are going to be put to work in my new space.

BLANCO Liven Silgranit

The Liven sink is made from BLANCO’s well-known Silgranit material, which is extremely durable material that comes in seven colours. It can be undermount of overmount. I have a white one (naturally), but the Cinder and Metallic Gray also caught my attention. Since I’ve had a normal (small) vanity sink in this space for the last five years, I’m very eager to have a large workhorse moving forward.

As for the faucet? My plumber will be installing BLANCO’s Urbena faucet. It is so sleek and clean – just what a white laundry room needs!

BLANCO Urbena faucet

While there’s a good chance that you like the Liven and Urbena as much as I do, you may be curious about other items in the BLANCO collection. Not to worry – everything else is lovely, too.

 BLANCO Quatrus apron-front sink

BLANCO Profina sink

BLANCO Panera faucet

BLANCO Solenta faucet

Thanks to BLANCO Canada for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. Photos via BLANCO.

The Friday Five: Learn, Donate, Love

February was a wild month on my end. There were very happy days, of course, but there were also really sad days, too. Every week seemed to bring difficult news of one sort or another. Illness. Job stress. Relationship challenges. I hope March brings joy to my loved ones. I hope happiness finds its way into your homes, too, if you’ve been experiencing some trying times.

So, today, I’m taking a break from talking about renos and fashion and furniture to raise  awareness about some important causes.

Mental Illness

A friend’s brother passed away last week due to mental illness. It’s devastating and awful. He was much too young. To donate or learn more about this disease, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Prostate Cancer

Some people say that prostate cancer is a “normal” or “good” kind of cancer. How is cancer normal? How can it be good? To donate or learn more, visit Prostate Cancer Canada and the Movember Foundation.

Breast Cancer

My friend Lisa wrote a personal essay about how cancer changes the conversations you have with your partner. It was recently published in the Globe and Mail. There are several organizations you can donate to to improve awareness and research for breast cancer. I usually learn more or donate to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund, or The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Ronald McDonald House

I heard of the much too early birth of twins of friends of a friend. I also learned of how the Ronald McDonald House Charities is supporting this family who needs to be close to their babies while they’re in intensive care.

Diabetes

Did you know that 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes? And about 50% of people with diabetes may experience kidney damage. To donate or learn more, visit Diabetes Canada or The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Travel: Grey County, Ontario – Day 3

As you already know, last month, I collaborated with Grey County Tourism. I spent three days exploring the region and trying all sorts of fun activities. On Day 1, I explored waterfalls, ate a delicious dinner at the Flying Chestnut Kitchen, and fell asleep by the fire at the Pretty River Valley Country Inn. On Day 2, I met reindeer and horses, went on a little hike in the snow, ate at Justin’s Oven in the town of Kimberley, did some outdoor activities at Blue Mountain, and ended the evening with a visit to Scandinave Spa and a peaceful sleep at the Westin Trillum House Blue Mountains.

Today, I’m sharing a recap of my third and final day in Grey County.

Day 3

I was up bright and early on Day 3 as I was due to visit Georgian Hills Vineyards to take part in grape picking. I grabbed a latte at the hotel and set off before 9am. I spent about 3 hours with a team of volunteers picking grapes off the vine for the winery. It was a lot of fun, and I didn’t even feel cold. I shared the full experience in this post.

I then drove about 10 minutes to the village of Thornbury. I was surprised to see a row of shops and restaurants when I turned onto Bruce Street. It is quite quaint and colourful. As per usual, however, I did find plenty of white goodness (beyond the snow!).

Adorn II shop in Thornbury, Ontario

For lunch, I stopped into The Cheese Gallery. I met two friendly women here who filled me in on the store’s offerings, the region’s news, and Thornbury’s artistic vibe. The Cheese Gallery’s specialty – as you may have guessed – is cheese. The shop is a great place to pick up your favourite – and new-to-you – cheeses. The Cheese Gallery also offers a beautiful selection of kitchen accessories, food products, and pottery. 

I enjoyed a delicious blue cheese grilled sandwich. The Cheese Gallery staff will make a grilled cheese sandwich with the cheese of your choosing and serve it with a side of chips and cucumbers. Yum!

Considering my sweet tooth, there was no way I was going to pass up on a treat for dessert. I opted a blueberry crumble tart, and it did not disappoint. And, yes, I did enjoy the little gold teaspoon, too. Don’t you just love the sweet little details?

Before leaving The Cheese Gallery, I tasted two elixirs, and since I seem to be on a real big turmeric kick at the moment, I purchased a jar of Moonshine Mama’s winter warrior elixir. I like to think it helped me stay healthy during the week that I drank it daily. 

After lunch, I traveled to nearby Clarksburg (about a 5 minute drive from Thornbury) to meet with Carol Hahn, the potter behind Hillstreet Productions. At Carol’s studio, I had so much fun making pottery. I have made pottery before (love it, love it!), so I was eager to get my hands dirty. At Carol’s studio, I had fun making a few bowls and a set of mugs. We rolled out the clay using her heavy-duty flattening machine (it’s much more efficient than a rolling pin!), and then I used bowls and trays as the forms to shape my creations.

I snooped around the studio to find textures to add to my pieces, too. While the clay looks grey/brown in these photos, it is porcelain, so it will dry on the white side, and Carol will be taking care of glazing everything in white. I haven’t yet received my pieces, but I’ll share them with you when they do arrive.

I think these curvy edges give my bowl a playful character. The curves are a nice contrast to the grid of the pattern I imprinted onto the clay.

The bumpy roller created the sweetest dents on my mugs. I think Carol couldn’t believe my excitement over them! But, come on, polka dots are fun!

Working with Carol Hahn was the last bit of fun I had in Grey County. From her studio, I drove back to Waterloo on the country roads – with one quick stop at Eckhardt’s Shell & Variety in Durham, Ontario for a butter tart order! (Yes, it does seem random, but I assure you that the butter tarts were very delicious and worth the stop!)

All photos by Jordana.
Thanks to Grey County and Amanda P. for sponsoring my trip. All opinions are my own.

Travel: Grey County, Ontario – Day 2

As you may recall, last month, I had the opportunity to explore Grey County (see what I did on day 1). Day 1 ended at the Pretty River Valley Country Inn. And here’s where I’d like to continue to share my travel story with you.

My loft at the Pretty River Valley Country Inn was spacious and comfortable. I fell asleep listening to the crackling fire. When I woke up, the first thing that came to my mind was the incredibly deep sleep that I had just had. I could not believe it. Interestingly, during breakfast at the inn, I met a couple who said the exact same thing! We agreed that our deep sleeps were due to a combination of a very comfortable Tempurpedic mattress, the warmth of the fire, and the fresh country air.

Breakfast was served in the main house at the Inn, and everything was freshly made. I ate by the fireplace, naturally.

After breakfast, I took a little tour of the property and surrounding trails. The day was bright, and I loved who I met along my little stroll in the snow…reindeer and Icelandic horses! I had never seen reindeer in person. Have you? What an awesome treat! All the animals at the Pretty River Valley Country Inn are absolutely beautiful.

the reindeer at Pretty River Valley Country Inn

the horses at the Pretty River Valley Country Inn

After my trail walk and visits with all the animals, I loaded up my car and took a short drove to the sweet village of Kimberley. Here, met up with Amanda from Grey County Tourism for lunch at Justin’s Oven. This restaurant is full of charm! The wood decor reminded me of a Swiss chalet or in a Cabane Ă  Sucre. The restaurant is open only a few days a week: Thursday pub night, Friday pizza, Saturday dining, and Sunday brunch. My breakfast crĂŞpe was tasty and service was friendly. I would easily make a return trip for Friday pizza! And I can imagine how fun it would be it in the summer with the windows open!

at Justin’s Oven

Right next door to Justin’s Oven is the Kimberley General Store. Every nook of this store exudes charm. The products are carefully curated – many of them local, too! It’s a great spot for little gifts, chocolate, and fresh bread, too! I picked up some garlic (grown right on the property).

goodies at the Kimberley General Store

It was wonderful to chat with Stacey – owner of the Kimberley General Store – and the other staff. Everyone was friendly and proud of all that the area has to offer its residents and visitors.

From Kimberley, I took a quick drive to Blue Mountain for a few outdoor activities. I hadn’t been to Blue Mountain for decades! I’m not a skier, but I was up for trying other activities at the resort. The newest attraction is the mountain top skating trail. I had brought my skates to give this a try, but the weather affected the ice conditions, so the trail was closed during my visit. Instead, I braved the Ridge Runner – a 1km-long mountain coaster. Honestly, I was scared. I had control of the little cart, and I was safely buckled in, but I was still scared. All the kids around me though – not so much! Ha ha!

the Ridge Runner at Blue Mountain

I also walked over to the other side of the resort to do the Hike n’ Tube. The cheers and screams from people tubing down the hill were hilarious! After the Ridge Runner, though, I found the hike n’ tube so calm! I don’t think I uttered even one little scream as I slid down the hill in my donut tube! It was fun though. I probably would do both activities again.

After a couple of hours outside in the winter weather, I was ready to check-in to my hotel. On this second night in Grey County, I checked into the Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain. The hotel was so busy, but check-in was smooth. This hotel has all the amenities that anyone could want. I was booked into a great suite – a one bedroom plus den with a living room, kitchenette, large bathroom, and a balcony. Oh – and a fireplace, too. My room overlooked the village and icy pond (check out this day/night comparison). I took the opportunity to spread out all of my stuff and to dry all of my outdoor winter clothing.

I stopped in at Oliver & Bonacini – on the first floor of the Westin – for a quick dinner before I headed over to the Scandinave Spa.

I was curious about the Scandinave Spa in the winter. I have been several times before in warmer weather (see this post and this post), but outdoor baths in the winter? How was this going to turn out? Well, let me tell you. Although the baths routine is hot-cold-rest, there was no way that I was brave enough to plunge into anything cold in freezing cold winter weather. The warm baths, on the other hand, were absolutely enjoyable! I was so relaxed! And after a day of outdoor activity, being in the baths was perfection! And I wasn’t cold at all!

And this brings me to the end of my second day in Grey County. Can you tell that I really enjoyed myself? I definitely did!

All photos by Jordana.
Thanks to Grey County and Amanda P. for sponsoring my trip. All opinions are my own.

Travel: Grey County, Ontario – Day 1

Our Ontario licence plates are very encouraging aren’t they? For those of you haven’t seen them, our provincial licence plate slogan is “Ontario, Yours to Discover.” And a couple of weeks ago, I did just that! I drove north to explore the region of Grey County.

If you’re like me, you may associate this region with Collingwood and the Blue Mountains, but the county has much more to offer than ski hills. Over a series of blog posts, I’ll take you on a little 3-day tour of the region. If you’re looking for something to do this winter, take note!

Day 1

On day 1, I drove about 1.5 hours from Waterloo to the town of Flesherton. Here, I stopped in at The Bicycle Café for a cappuccino and a piece of apple pie. Folks, the pie! Get the pie!

at The Bicycle Café in Flesherton, Ontario

I needed the sweet energy boost before I headed out to Hogg’s Falls. The falls are just around the corner from the main intersection in Flesherton (at Hwy 4 and East Base Line). There is plenty of parking, and while you can spend a while hiking the trails, you don’t need to go too far at all to reach the falls. Follow the sounds, and you’ll find them within minutes of parking. I wasn’t certain I’d be too keen on hiking in the snow, but it was absolutely peaceful.

the trail and Hogg’s Falls

As I’m not an avid winter outdoors-woman, I appreciated that I could hike for as little or as long as I wanted. Listening to and seeing the falls felt really quite magical, and I was so appreciative of the natural beauty that surrounded me! Ontario is yours to discover, remember?

Grey County has 9 waterfalls that you can explore, and 7 of them are accessible in the winter. I’m sure each one has something special to offer, and since they’re not too far away from one another, you can take in a lot even on a short visit to the area.

getting caught in the sunlight

As for my outfit? Along with my scarf, hats, and mitts, I wore  this hiking outfit (I didn’t even include one piece of athletic wear!), my L.L.Bean Downtek, and Sorel boots. The boots were great. I wouldn’t recommend wearing light boots as if there is a lot of snow, you’ll need footwear with traction (and warmth).

After I had my fill of outdoor time, I drove to The Flying Chestnut Kitchen for dinner. This restaurant is worth the drive, let me tell you! I walked into the restaurant just as it was opening, and the staff was conversing about Saved By The Bell. So of course I joined in.  Remember the episode when Jessi Spano took the sleeping pills? Sure do! – There’s no time, never any time! – Ha ha. Does anyone remember this episode? People who remember episodes and lines from Saved By The Bell are my kind of people. All this to say that my intro to The Flying Chestnut Kitchen was great!

Not only did I enjoy chatting with the staff, but I also feasted on a delicious dinner at a leisurely I’m-on-vacation pace. The menu changes regularly depending on the local offerings. I began my meal with an amuse bouche – a sausage roll on a layer of mustard. For the main course, I opted for the evening’s special – duck confit. The first time I had duck confit, I was a 16 year old exchange student in France. Every time I order it, I remember that time period in my life! For dessert, I was treated to a delicious mousse. The quality of everything was superb.

The Flying Chestnut Kitchen is run by Chef Shawn Adler. He opened the restaurant in the Old General Store in 2010. The restaurant is quite small, seating about 25 people, so it’s wise to make a reservation. And bring cash since it’s a cash-only restaurant!

After just about rolling out of the restaurant, I drove about 30 minutes to the Pretty River Valley Country Inn.

Side note: Dark, country roads in the winter are a touch on the scary side. I went slow and used my high-beam lights for just about the whole commute. I was extra grateful for my TomTom since with it, I knew I wasn’t going to get lost, and I could see how windy the roads were via the image on my screen. Other reasons I was a touch nervous on these roads? Well, beyond the snow, I wasn’t even sure if there would be bears and such popping out of the trees. Are there bears in Grey County? Maybe it’s best that I don’t know. If you’re not used to winter driving, I would recommend that you take it slow and drive in daylight hours as much as possible. Oh – and I should also note that the next morning, I drove the same road in the daylight, and it was absolutely smooth and easy. It wasn’t scary at all! It’s amazing what darkness can do to a gal.

Now, to the Pretty River Valley Country Inn! The young staff at the inn helped me with my luggage and checked me into a cozy loft (they call them Crofts). My 600 square foot room had a main floor with a king bed, large bathroom, foyer, and seating area. And a wood-burning fireplace. Oh, the fireplace. So so good. My room also had a second floor with a pair of twin beds.

the Ben Nevis Croft at the Pretty River Valley Country Inn

I had a lazy evening in my Croft. The inn has great options for cozy nights in – popcorn and games are at the ready! I fell asleep to the sounds of the crackling fire, feeling happy for my first day of exploring Grey County.

All photos by Jordana.
Thanks to Grey County and Amanda P. for sponsoring my trip. All opinions are my own.

Event: Interior Design Show, Toronto

If you’re in love with the world of interior design, then the Interior Design Show (IDS) is the place for you! IDS is coming to Toronto this weekend, and there is a long list of impressive speakers and exhibitors that will be in attendance.

IDS speakers include Shauna Levy (President of Canada’s Design Exchange), Brian Gluckstein (interior designer), Lynda Reeves (of House & Home magazine), Tommy Smythe (designer and tv personality), Karim Rashid (designer), and Arren Williams (creative director, designer, writer).

IDS exhibitors will include many of my favourite brands, and I’m keen on seeing what’s new and upcoming in the world of design. This will be an especially fun visit for me as I have my own renos to plan, and I’m looking for what I can include in my designs. Here are just some of the exhibitors you’ll get to meet at IDS this year.

1925 Workbench

Anony

Bettencourt Manor

Blanco

Bole Floor

Casalife

Kroft

Maison Basque

Urban Barn

If the weather cooperates, I’ll be in attendance, so stay tuned for future posts right here on White Cabana as well as on my Instagram and Twitter accounts.

If you’re interested to learn more, check out IDS. The show runs from January 18-21 at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre.

Fashion: White Activewear

Is anyone else’s inbox flooded with news of activewear sales? I guess it’s the thing to talk about in January, so I’m jumping on that bandwagon and sharing some good-looking white activewear items (many of them are on sale, naturally).

Tops

Old Navy pullover

 GapFit hoodie

GapFit jaquard hoodie

Under Armour tank

Under Armour fleece hoodie

Bottoms

Lululemon crop pant

Lululemon shorts

Everything Else

Lole sports bra

Adidas sneakers

Saucony sneakers 

Green’s Your Colour water bottle

Gift Guide: For the Host and Hostess

I’m so grateful that Daniela has taken time out of her very busy schedule to share four amazing gift guides on White Cabana. Her earlier guides, in case you missed them, focused on babies and toddlers, tweens and teens, her and him.  In this last guide, she’s sharing more original ideas for the host. Or, as she told me, thoughtful “just because” gifts. And, yup, that’s Daniela…always thinking of others!

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Are you always stuck for what to bring to that dinner party or holiday drop-in? Or maybe you’re stuck on ideas for a small token for a teacher, coworker, or friend? This list is made up of affordable (under $30, with the exception of one!) items that cater to all types of people, but it is especially geared towards those drop-in visits and dinner parties we attend more frequently this holiday season.

Candles. Who doesn’t love a nice smelling candle? This one comes wrapped so nicely, so it’s ready for gift giving!

candle, $14 CAD (on sale), Chapters Indigo

Ornaments are great for those of us who celebrate the holidays with a tree. An ornament is a thoughtful gift your recipients will remember you by year after year. These ones are monogrammed with an initial and can be given by first or last name.

monogram ornament, $6 CAD (on sale), Chapters Indigo

The pineapple trend is still hot, and people are incorporating pineapples in home dĂ©cor and accent pieces. This pineapple jar can be used for anything “dry,” or it can be left out empty. In addition to it being a trendy item, pineapples signify warmth, friendship, and hospitality. These are all the things you receive when going to visit friends and family over the holidays.

pineapple storage jar, $22.49 CAD (on sale), Well

The store Saje started off with only a few locations, but now you can find many all around. It has the best essential oils and aromatherapy items for home and body healing. No doubt this store will continue to grow and thrive as people are increasingly pursuing personal wellness. This great housewarming gift is priced just under $30.

electric ceramic diffuser, $29.95 CAD, Saje

Know anyone who loves stationery? Eighty Seventh St. is a Canadian company founded by Monica Smiley. Be sure to follow her on Instagram for great illustrations that are sure to bring a smile to your face. These items found online are sure to please the stationery-lover in your life.

notes, $12.50 CAD, Eighty Seventh St.

all occasion boxed notecards, $20 CAD, Eighty Seventh St.

greeting cards, Eighty Seventh St.

L’Occitane En Provence is sure to please anyone on your list. Below are two well-priced hostess/host gifts. I am a big fan of the hand cream and lip balm. They’re packaged beautifully in true “French” fashion.

shea butter holiday bauble, $14 CAD, L’Occitane

shea hugs and kisses, $20 CAD, L’Occitane

Who doesn’t love a magazine subscription? The gift of reading is perfect every time. Start someone’s year off right with a subscription to Style at Home, since it is priced perfectly, and it’s gift that will have your friends thinking of you each month.

Style at Home year subscription, $23.95 CAD for print, $19.95 for digital

As a true coffee lover, I can’t start my day without two cups. I have to draw attention to my favorite coffee – Dineen Coffee Company. We drive here monthly to pick up a few bags of their beans which we grind at home each morning. When I say “we,” I really mean my husband. There is really nothing like a good quality cup of coffee. If you happen to be in the Toronto area, trust me, buying someone a nice bag of Dineen’s temperance roast will not disappoint. It truly is my favorite cup of coffee.

Dineen Coffee

I know that many people won’t be able to make it down to Toronto, so on the subject of coffee, if you have a coffee lover on your host/hostess list, this coffee maker is not only one of a kind, but it makes an incredible cup of coffee. It is on the higher end of my price point for a hostess gift. However, if you know someone who really loves coffee, they will thank you each time you visit by making an exceptional tasting cup. And, cool bit of info, this Chemex coffee maker is featured in the MOMA in NYC!

Chemex coffee maker, $47.99 CAD (on sale), Well

Happy shopping!

– Daniela

***

Oh my goodness, Daniela! You’ve shared another excellent gift guide today! Thank you! I hope you get spoiled this holiday season!

Gift Guide: For Her and Him

Last week, I introduced you to my cousin Daniela  and two of her holiday gift guides: babies and toddlers. and tweens and teens. She’s back this week with two more guides for us. And they’re just as good as what she brought as last week! Today, she is focused on the adults in our lives. Have a look!

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Hey everyone. I’m here with an adult gift guide, and I hope you find lots of items for your loved ones. Or, you may ask Santa for something for yourself, too! I have!

What’s great about this list is that some these items can also make great gifts for that teen/university/college student in your life as well.

Reviews on the Tre wireless ear buds by Sudio say the sound is crisp, and they last for a long time with a single charge. They’re stylish and Swedish, so I think, all-in-all, they make a great gift for the tech lover/music lover/podcast follower in your group.

Tre ear buds, $93.75 (on sale), Sudio

Next up — my favorite insulated water bottle on the market. I bought my first one over a year ago and use it daily for both hot and cold beverages. I can attest to the length of time it keeps things hot and cold. It has never let me down. The hot actually lasts longer than 8 hours, and I can keep my warm lemon water all day at my desk. The other thing I love is that, true to its advertising, once washed, it does not hold the flavor of whatever drink was in it before. I can easily put water in it the day after having used it for coffee or tea. This bottle is from Canadian company Green’s Your Colour and comes in an array of colours. What’s special right now is the limited edition white versions which make great gifts for any adult on your list.

rock steady limited edition bottle, $45, Green’s Your Colour

champagne bliss limited edition bottle, $45, Green’s Your Colour

Anyone who has lived with me before-or worked with me for that matter-may run to buy me this amazing gadget. The Tile Pro is available at Best Buy, and it’s a great gift for those of us who lose/misplace our keys every day or every hour. The free Tile Pro app will locate that item you always seem to lose by emitting a loud sound. Santa, are you listening? I need one!

Tile, $45 CAD, Best Buy

Isn’t winter all about cozy chunky sweaters? This merino wool sweater from Aritzia is not only stylish for a night out with friends but equally cozy for a night in.

merino wool sweater, $166.50 CAD (on sale), Aritzia

2017 seemed to be the year of the beard. If you have someone who is sporting this trend, this kit makes a great gift. Rumor has it that taking care of a beard is a lot of work. This all-natural Canadian-made beard kit is a perfect gift for that beard lover on your list.

The Northern Beard Company – The Revival Kit, $25.48 (on sale), Well

Journaling, becoming more mindful, and seeing andshowing gratitude in every day is proven to make us healthier not only in mind but in body, too. This is a great gift for that special someone in your life. It will help them create a daily habit of journaling and its rewards will be endless.

The Five Minute Journal, $26.95 CAD, Chapters Indigo

My last item is this trendy backpack by Matt & Nat for Indigo. Backpacks are now coming in various versions and styles. I love this one not only because it is sleek, modern, and a great size to fit all kinds of items, but it is also made from sustainable products. Both Chapters Indigo and Matt & Nat are Canadian companies which is an extra plus. Although this backpack seems to be featured for going to work or school, as a mom of a toddler, having two hands free has become quite important while also having (lots) of things accessible. I have this on my wish list, too. Hopefully Santa is reading this blog today.

Matt and Nat X Indigo backpack, $180, Chapters Indigo

Happy shopping!

– Daniela

***

Jeez, Daniela, your guides are top-notch! I love all of your ideas for gifts for loved ones (and for ourselves!). Thanks for sharing your ideas with all of us today!

Gift Guide: For the Little Ones

I’m excited to welcome my cousin Daniela to the blog today. She has a 4-part gift guide series to share over the next couple of weeks, and I hope you’re eager to see what she has in store for us. Today’s gift guide is all about the babies and toddlers! Take it away, Daniela!

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Hey everyone. As an avid shopper and someone who prides herself in finding just the right item for the many children on my shopping list, I am here today sharing with White Cabana readers some of the best items in my opinion for the baby and toddlers on your list this Christmas and yes…they are white or almost all white!

A hot item given the focus we are seeing today on mindfulness, self-care and starting this at a young age is the tee pee. This awesome gift not only looks great in any room but gives the child a place to have some quiet time, read a book or just enjoy some imaginative play.

teepee, Pottery Barn Kids

Make the base of the teepee extra cozy by adding this:

rug, Ikea

This special doll is perfect for children 18 months and up. In fact, my 2 1/2 year old daughter still prefers this to all her other dolls. It is the perfect fit for small arms and mimics a real baby which is wonderful for play and imagination.

doll, Mastermind Toys

Not only made from superior organic cotton but also Canadian made, these pjs are sure to become your toddler’s favorite. Do you have a future doctor or ballerina in the family? Then surprise them with a pair of these this Christmas.

pajamas, Playjamas

pajamas, Playjamas

Want an extra special outfit for that special baby girl in your life? Let her sparkle in one of many options from Canadian company Little Lush Boutique. Although most of the store’s items cater to the little girls in your life, it carries awesome diaper/tie duos great for your next photo shoot that can be worn by both genders.

dress, Little Lush Boutique

Now for my favorite children’s Canadian clothing company. Their staples may be priced a bit higher than the norm however the wash and wear ability of this high quality clothing is far superior than many brands on the market. The organic cotton feels like butter, and you will find that whoever you buy these clothes for will want to wear them the second they are out of the wash. Again and again! Here is a selection of some of my go-to staples from Mini Mioche!

long sleeve tee, Mini Mioche

the ball tee, Mini Mioche

the biker romper, Mini Mioche

long sleeve ballet dress, Mini Mioche

Now for that extra special gift, check out this classic car:

vintage car, Indigo

Happy Shopping!

– Daniela

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Thanks, Daniela, for sharing all of these goodies with us, today! You’re definitely a thoughtful shopper and gift-giver, so we’re lucky to have your input for the little ones in our lives!

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Real Estate: White Homes For Sale

Who else goes on Realtor multiple times a week? A day? An hour? It can totally suck you in if you’re curious about real estate, right? Realtor (and the Canadian Real Estate Association) was one of the sponsors at BlogPodium, and I think the crowd laughed when we were asked the same questions prior to the Realtor-sponsored presentation! It’s hilarious. We’re either curious about our own neighbourhood, dreaming of other neighbourhoods (or cottages!), or, if you’re like me, you’re interested in the design details of the homes for sale.

I’ve been gathering images of white interior spaces from Realtor, and today seems like as good as time as any to finally hit publish on this post.

64 Hillcrest Dr., London, Ontario, $1,250,000 CAD

525 Princess Ave., London, Ontario, $1,649,900 CAD

686 Franklinway Cr. , London, Ontario, $2,995,000

6620 Concession 1, Puslinch, Ontario, $5,499,000

18A Westmount Park Rd., Toronto, Ontario, $10,018,000

361 Inglewood Dr., Toronto, Ontario, $8,380,000

16 Ashwood Cres., Toronto, Ontario, $2,548,000

4381 Lakeshore Rd., Clarington, Ontario, $2,500,000

Cool, right? I know these homes are listed in the millions, so if you come across any others below the million-dollar mark that you think are beautiful-in-white, get in touch!

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Architecture: Jean Verville

I recently came across the work of architect Jean Verville, and I was soon lost in a website of beautiful design projects. Here are some spaces that really caught my eye.

unitĂ© d’habitation Westmount Square

Fahouse 

In 2

whitepaper

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Please Vote for White Cabana!

As you may remember, this here blog has been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award (woohoo!) in the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. There are only a few more weeks for the Amara Interior Blog Awards voting period, and I’d be thrilled if you could take a moment to vote!

The #IBA17 awards have a lot going on! There are over 800 blogs nominated across 10 categories. Isn’t that amazing? There are so many beautiful blogs in the round-up, so I would strongly encourage you to have a browse, learn something new, and vote for some very deserving bloggers!

Thanks for your support!

Design: Caribou Cabin in My Home

A couple of weeks ago, I shared news of Canadian newcomer Caribou Cabin. This shop designs, customizes, and manufactures chalkboards, magnetic whiteboards, and pinboards. The company generously sent me a beautiful square (34″ x34″) linen pinboard – white a white frame, of course.

Soon after the order was placed, my massive shipment arrived at my doorstep. The board was wrapped carefully and arrived safely to my home in Waterloo. When I saw the grey linen for the first time, I was impressed by the quality of the item. And the grey matched my home perfectly.

I leaned it up against the wall behind a cabinet in my living room which houses my radio, record player, and typewriter. I pinned up some memorable items from my office that I knew would look pretty and would also remind me of happy celebrations.

As I took my photos, I thought that the pinboard in my living room would be the perfect spot to showcase Christmas cards. And the great thing about the pinboard is that I can move it to other areas of my home such as a hallway landing area or office. The office is certainly an obvious spot for a pinboard, but I don’t think it’s the only place for it.

Thanks to Caribou Cabin for sponsoring this post. All photos and opinions are my own.

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Marketplace: Caribou Cabin

I’m thrilled to share news of the recent launch of Caribou Cabin – a Canadian company specializing in well-designed and beautifully manufactured chalkboards, corkboards, whiteboards, and pinboards. Organization and art all in one item? Yes, please!

One of the reasons that I’m eager to write about Caribou Cabin is because I have known one of the owners – Tim – since highschool (aka – years and years) and when he emailed to let me know about his newest venture, I was happy to help spread the word.

Each board is manufactured in the company’s Toronto workshop, and great care is taken to design and manufacture high-quality products that suit individual styles and homes. Frames come in multiple finishes for every board category, but you’ll see that (as per usual) I lean toward the white, black, and grey options.

magnetic chalkboard (top: black frame, bottom: white frame)

corkboards

magnetic whiteboards

linen pinboards

Whether you’re in the market for a chalkboard, corkboard, whiteboard, or pinboard, you can browse the selection at Caribou Cabin, choose your size, select your frame, and easily place your order online. What’s not to love?

Stay tuned for another Caribou Cabin feature soon as I’d like to give you an up-close look at the linen pinboard that I have in my own home. Spoiler alert – it’s lovely!

Cars: Review of the Audi Q5

Have I caught your attention with the title? Audi. Q5. Who’s excited for a little car review? Honestly, I am most definitely thrilled to be writing this post about my recent experience with the Audi Q5 – aka #WhiteCabanaDreamCar.

I’ve been keen on the Q5 for a while now, but it hasn’t always been that way.

A long(er) while ago, you may remember that I became pretty obsessed with the Fiat 500. I loved the look of this little Italian go-getter, but eventually my want/need for this little one faded. I rented it for a weekend, and while I enjoyed driving it around Toronto, it barely fit my luggage, and it was quite a noisy highway ride.

In recent years, it was the Audi Q7 that caught my attention, and I wrote about it here. What a beautiful car. It’s sleek, stylish, and roomy. In fact, once I saw it up-close, I realized it might be a touch too roomy for my liking. With no children in tow, I don’t have a need for its third row of seats.

Enter the Q5. I kept seeing this car on the road, and I kept liking it. And liking it some more. When I drove home from Montebello, Quebec, I spotted many on the highway, and each time I saw one, I thought, “now that’s a nice looking car,” sometimes I said it to myself before I was close enough to confirm that the car I was eyeing was in fact an Audi Q5.

Given that I grew up with an Audi 5000, I have fond memories of the Audi brand. My parents bought our grey Audi 5000 at the Audi factory Ingolstadt, Germany, then shipped it over to Toronto way back in 1985! We traveled everywhere in that car as a family. When my Dad finally retired it in 2006 after 21 years and 344,996kms, it was a pretty sad day for all of us. We all knew it was at the end of its life (21 years!), but it was emotional to see it go. Is that weird? To be so emotionally attached to a car? Hope I’m not the only one!

Dad and our Audi 5000 in Ingolstadt, Germany
(my sister and I are in the backseat – camera shy, I guess)

Okay, so we weren’t too camera shy. My sister and I at a basket shop in Germany. I’m flexing my muscles by carrying the biggest basket I could find, I guess!

So this brings me to my recent, super up-close encounter with the Audi Q5. The AudiKW team generously loaned me a white Q5 for a couple of days of adventuring around the Waterloo region (see #WhiteCabanaxAudi on Instagram for a few more photos). What a treat! I was happy to explore the white, sleek AudiKW showroom while I waited for my car. While dealerships can be easily intimidating for someone like me (who knows very little about cars), I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s welcoming attitudes. I felt comfortable.

I met with Deon and Robert who set me up with the Q5. Robert – a brand specialist – walked me through all the features of the Audi Q5 Komfort. This model is the lowest end of the Audi Q5 spectrum, so some elements I really liked, and others would come in a higher end model (like the Progressive or the Technik).

When I got in the car, the first things I noticed were the driver’s seat and the size of the front window. The driver’s seat was made for me (or so I like to think). It was comfortable from the beginning right up until I dropped off the car. The front window panel was large and free of obstructions. I know this should always be the case, but it isn’t. Sometimes the frame is too thick or the rear view mirror is bulky. I also loved that the windshield wipers tucked away beautifully – they weren’t visible when not in use. Great design detail!

I love the design of these mirrors.

I currently drive a 2004 Toyota Rav4 – which I really do love – but it doesn’t have the modern features of new cars, so it took me a little while to get used to all the tech in the Audi Q5. Okay – not that long, but you know what I mean. In the Audi Q5, I could actually plug in my phone and connect it to bluetooth. I know many new cars have this feature, but my Rav4 doesn’t, so it took a moment to get used to it. Once I did – let me tell you – I made as many hands-free phone calls as I could while I was driving! I get amused so darn easily!

I think I only managed to use about one or two of these buttons! I’m pretty tech-savvy, but not when it comes to cars!

The cargo space is decent in the Komfort (26.8 cubic feet), but I definitely noticed that it’s smaller than the space in my Rav4 (about 38 cubic feet). The seats fold down, of course, which helps for large loads, but it would be something I’d have to consider and test out before I’d purchase it as I do end up carrying large loads on random trips in and out of town. The cargo space in the Q5 is tidy with a hidden spare tire and a privacy cover, too.

 

Great design – everything has its place!

Because I live in Uptown Waterloo and normally walk or bike to the places I need to go, I forced myself to venture out a bit for a longer drive to get the full experience of this car. I took the highway-route to Cambridge so I could go fast! FUN! The pick-up in the Q5 was amazing, and my comfort level remained high! The car drove smoothly and quietly, and I definitely liked driving fast (within speed limits, of course)!

When I was going over the features with Robert at the dealership, he told me that the car can adjust to various driving modes – dynamic, comfort, auto, etc. I opted for dynamic for the majority of the time because the ride felt fast and smooth. Dynamic mode has tight steering and more aggressive gear shifting. Comfort, on the other hand, has softer, easier steering and less aggressive gear shifting.

Look at the little lights underneath the handles – love them!

Having the Audi Q5 in my possession made my birthday celebrations extra fun! In fact, since my parents came for a visit, they, too, experienced the luxurious drive! This was especially fun for my dad who recreated his Audi pose from 1985. 

Notice my approach to parking? The farther and emptier, the better!

Over the course of my Audi Q5 ownership, I drove as much as I possibly could. In addition to driving to and around Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and St. Jacobs, I drove over to the sweet town of Elora for a birthday dinner celebration. On the way, I stopped by the Montrose kissing bridge – the last covered bridge in Ontario, and the oldest of its kind in Canada.

And I also stopped by the castle-house on Middlebrook Road (between Montrose and Elora).  While in Elora, I checked out the progress of the Elora Mill. Construction is well underway, and I’m very much looking forward to a return trip here to eat, stay, and relax! It’s going to add so much more prettiness to the already-pretty town of Elora. As you can see in these photos, parking the Q5 was a breeze. Backing into grassy areas and stone-covered roads was a-okay!

For an SUV, the Audi Q5 is extremely fuel efficient. I love this aspect of the car! Apparently, it’s good to go 1000km on a tank of gas. Isn’t that amazing for an SUV?

I took on several passengers over the course of my mini-ownership. Every passenger loved the experience. All agreed that the car was definitely sleek and luxurious and beautifully designed. Back-seat passengers felt that the ride was spacious and comfortable and enjoyed the adjustable back seats as well as the back-seat air conditioning controls.

As a driver, I got easily used to having the control buttons at my fingertips on the console. While some passengers assumed that the navigation screen was touch-screen, it wasn’t. This didn’t bother me at all. I really liked having the circle button on the console to control music, phone calls, settings, etc. It was very easy to operate and comfortable because I didn’t need to extend my arm for touch screen.

While I did absolutely enjoy the Audi Q5 Komfort, and my interest in purchasing one has been confirmed because of this recent driving experience, there are some features that did not come with this model that I would want. My top priority would be a sunroof. I love having a sunroof in my Rav4, and I would definitely want a Q5 that had one. The model that I drove didn’t have all the snazzy sensors and cameras that I would want in a new car. I’d definitely upgrade to include these as I think they’re especially handy for parking and highway driving.

If you can’t already tell, overall, I have become more attached to the Audi Q5 after this driving experience. It’s a beautiful vehicle from every angle, and it made me feel safe, happy, and secure. I also loved walking up to it knowing that I got to get in the driver’s seat. This car definitely suits my style and personality!

Do I still think that this is the car for me? You bet!

Unless, maybe, I should try out the Audi TT first? 🙂

Many thanks to MC and the AudiKW team for sponsoring this post. All opinions and photos are my own.

p.s. Outfit details: jeans – Joe Fresh (last year), top – Kate Spade, eyeglasses – Polette, sunglasses – Rayban, purse – Longchamp.

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Travel: Terre Bleu, Milton, Ontario

If you’ve ever driven from Waterloo to Toronto – and if you’re anything like me – then you’ve probably uttered a few some many curse words as you’ve driven through Milton on the 401. Let me correct myself – as you’ve been stopped in traffic on the 401 in Milton. Ugh. Milton. Up until a few weeks ago, all I had really known about Milton was the traffic I experienced on the 401.

But, I’m happy to share that I’ve found something glorious about Milton (and Halton Region) – the Terre Bleu lavender farm. Hooray! It’s absolutely lovely, and I encourage you to visit! Get off that darn highway and enjoy the serene beauty of the lavender farm! (Warning – this post is infused with hints of purple and yellow.)

Tim and I drove out to Terre Bleu on the Canada Day long weekend for a tour with Terre Bleu’s owner, Ian Baird. Our tour was fun, educational, and full of beauty.

Terre Bleu’s fields grow several varieties of both English and French lavender. English lavender, in brief, is excellent for its scent, while the French lavender is used in culinary endeavors. The English lavender was just coming out when we visited the farm, and the French hadn’t yet shown its colours.

Some people like white…and others like purple. Ian and I bonded over our passion for (a single) colour.

Much of the property is – of course – filled with rows upon rows of beautiful lavender. But Ian has also done an impressive job of embracing, promoting, and fostering art on the farm. The yellow door (that you may have seen floating around social media) provides the perfect photo op, but it is even more cool in person. A random door in the middle of lavender rows. Loved it!

Inspired by the quote (written by Ian’s then-10-year-old daughter) noted above the door, Tim and I left our worries behind us as we walked through the yellow door. We found joy on the other side!

In addition to the lavender fields, Terre Bleu raises honeybees, has an herb garden (which transforms into a great spot for lavender-infused cocktails), and has a beautiful forest and trail. In the forest, along the “Yellow Bench Trail,” you’ll find a wood installation perfect for a conversation circle and – as the name suggests – a yellow bench. But, of course!

Terre Bleu’s honeybees are hard at work! In the photo below, Ian is showing us the old bee keeping house in the distillery – the room where they turn lavender into oils. Those copper vessels, which are used in the essential oil-making process, were brought in from Portugal because of their high quality and production capability.

Before you think that Terre Bleu is all-purple-all-the-time, check this out:

Great, right? This massive, white bench overlooks the equestrian area of the farm, and its design mimics that of the main store/barn structure. No detail was left to chance on this farm! Each design choice was made with much consideration.

And more white came through in the “white” Melissa lavender. In fact, although it looks white here, its true colour will be pink once it’s fully in bloom. (But let’s just pretend it’s white, okay?)

The Terre Bleu team harvests the lavender during the year and transforms it into all sorts of beautiful products – sachets, dried lavender, lavender salt, lavender essential oils, soaps, and more. The white-washed shop is definitely worth a visit. Pick up a treat before you leave, including, perhaps, a scoop of lavender ice cream! I picked up a jar of honey – it’s made with the farm’s lavender and hard-working honeybees! I couldn’t resist!

So, next time you give Milton a passing glance, I encourage you to stop and find your way to Terre Bleu for some inspiration!

See more snapshots of our day at Terre Bleu over on Tim’s blog, Design Maze.

Thanks again, Ian, for the super tour! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the development of your lovely lavender farm! Milton is lucky to have you!
Photos by Tim and me.

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The Friday Five: The Maple Leaf

Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday tomorrow, and cities, towns, villages, and hamlets are all preparing to celebrate with food and fireworks. Red and white is dominating stores, squares, and supermarkets, and Canadians are eager to celebrate!

Since the maple leaf is one of Canada’s most prominent symbols, I’m sharing five versions of it from five Canadian companies.

diamond maple leaf brooch, Birks

maple leaf bookends, Chapters Indigo

Canada – True North art print, Penny Paper Co.

Canada bucket and shovel, Canadian Tire

pure silver coin, Canada Post

I hope all my Canadian readers enjoy a wonderful long weekend! Happy #Canada150!

Design: McKinley Burkart Architecture

I don’t know how Instagram algorithms work, but sometimes the fancy behind-the-scenes technology really works in my favour. Recently, Instagram introduced me to the work of McKinley Burkart. This architecture and interior design firm, which has studios in Calgary and Vancouver, has an extensive portfolio of beautiful restaurants, retail, residential, and work spaces.

Bruce Lifestyle Store

M-Tech

Market

Village Ice Cream

Earls Westhills

Elbow Park House

The Shore

IHS

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